Mary Ross Rhyne, owner of The
Bookstore, on Risks of Starting
Your Own Business:
PART ONE: IF YOU FAIL
A. Your optimism and confidence will be damaged.
B. You'll have lost some or
all of the money you saved, borrowed, or raised from investors.
C. Your credit may be
D. You may lose friendships, if
you went into business with
E. You may be embarrassed to
face your mentors, creditors, investors, advisers, or friends.
F. Your husband/lover/in-laws
l.."You didn't know when
you were well off."
2. "It's not as if you have
3. "Teaching is such a nice
job for a woman."
4. "Women just aren't cut
out for business."
G. You'll have to look for
H. You may regret the time
spent on a project that failed.
PART TWO: IF YOU SUCCEED
A. You'll have to put most of
your time and energy into the
B. You may have to work
hardest on weekends and at holiday times when your family or
friends are playing.
C. Your parents/in-laws may
1. "Her poor husband."
2. "Those poor children."
D. Your old friends may feel
threatened and defensive, or
E. If you make a lot of money
1. Your husband/lover may
2. You'll have to deal with
more financial decisions.
F. If you don't make a lot of
1. Your husband/lover may
2. You'll have to worry
about staying in the black.
3. You'll feel overworked
G. You'll find out that people
1. "Her poor husband
2. "Those poor children."
3. "All she needs is a good
4. "She did it by sleeping
with the customers/suppliers/
5. "She's probably a
H. Youll have to figure out
what to say when you're asked to
make a talk on "Operating a successful business"!
NEXT YEAR: REWARDS OF
STARTING YOUR OWN
MARY ROSS RHYNE (right foreground)
WOMEN WHO START THEIR OW/NDUSBNESS
see cover photo
Kathryn VanDement Heilhecker,
Proprietor, Houston Automatic
Five years ago, if someone had
looked in a crystal ball and said I
would be operating an automotive
repair shop, getting dirty and greasy like any other auto mechanic, I
would have thought them crazy!
At that time, I was an oil company secretary planning to be
married in the next few months
and to inherit a ready-made family of four. That was, or so I
thought, the most significant
change of my life.
Then the real decision time
came. My father died and I had
to decide whether to continue his
business or sell it.
How could I, a woman without
previous training or knowledge,
operate an automotive repair
business? How would my "new
family" and I adjust to the responsibilities that a business of
this type would demand? Would
the general public and the employees accept a woman as
manager of an auto repair
The first few days answered
my questions. The employees,
who had worked for my dad
many years, were extremely helpful. For days our customers
kept the phones ringing with encouragement. My family and my
future family were very supportive.
Bankers that I contacted during the early months were not so
encouraging; in fact, they were
unwilling to make the loans necessary to keep the business
operating. These financial "experts" were quite sure that a
woman was not capable of managing a successful automotive repair
business. Over four years of profitable operation have proven
It was a long, hard road. I've
learned a lot about auto repairs,
especially the automatic transmission, and I continue to take
Not only do our women customers feel more relaxed dealing
with another woman, but even
most of our male customers can
accept a female garage owner and
Barbara T. Grizzle, owner
of The Little Thicket:
Owning a business is like be
coming a new parent — you
listen to all kinds of advice and
usually end up throwing it out
Front Page Photo of Kathryn VanDement Heilhecker by Janis Fowles
Marion Coleman, owner of House
of Coleman, a graphic arts and
When I decided I wanted to
bpen, there was no printing shop
fin Houston that offered design
work, paste-up, illustration, copy-
writing, photography and quality
printing under one roof.
I was too elated with my idea
to feel anxiety even when it came
to securing capital... I never had
any doubts that I could do the
work. The only anxiety I ever experienced came as a great surprise
It came when I went to call on
ad agencies and try to get their
business. Without exception each
of the purchasing agents I saw
questioned whether a woman
PAGE 4 SEPTEMBER 1977 HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH
could not only run a printing business but actually be a printer.
Their doubt increased when I
showed them samples from my
portfolio, as they did not believe
that the quality printing they saw
could be done on an A.B. Dick
machine, which is traditionally
used as a duplicating machine.
But it was and it still is today...
Had it not been for George
Bush I might not have made it
through those first six months. He
was beginning his campaign for
the Senate and gave me enough
business to keep my doors open.
Eventually a little business
trickled in from the agencies and
the owner of a typesetting firm
took an interest in what I was doing and spread the word.
If I had to give a reason for the
success of my business I could do
it in one word: friends. Friends
were the ones who helped me
paint and hammer, brought me
supper from their tables when I
couldn't stop working, cheered
with me everytime a new job
came in. They brought in jobs and
ran errands and sipped coffee and
were there for all the bad times
and all the good ones, too...
So slowly I have watched my
own dream come true. I have to
admit that I still feel slightly
amused everytime one of those
first doubting purchasing agents
calls to get my advice or to see if I
will handle an important printing
job for his agency. And, ironically,
I can see in them the anxiety I felt
seven years ago when I was sitting
on the other side of the desk.
the window. I feel your business is yours and it needs to
learn like a child growing.
After I made my decision
to become independent, I got
a personal loan from the
Houston Area Feminist Federal Credit Union and built
a greenhouse, selling plants
at the flea market on weekends to build inventory.
Adapting myself to the
new situation has been most
trying. I've got it now, what
do I do with it? This is where
I'm finding the real work begins.
It's tricky, for in a greenhouse you need knowledge,
love, gentleness, and constant caring. Then you go
into your office and try to
figure out a way to make a
living at what you love. I have
learned a lot and life is for